Activity time: 90 minutes
Preparation for Activity
- Arrange with a Protestant church for your group to attend a Sunday worship service. Inquire if there will be a communion, and whether it is available to nonmembers or those who have not been baptized. Consider engagement with a historically African American church.
- Remind participants to wear appropriate clothing.
- Remind participants to be polite if their hosts offer literature, instruction, urge them to accept Christ as their Savior, or otherwise try to convert them.
Description of Activity
Youth attend a conservative Protestant worship service and discuss the event.
Meet beforehand to be sure participants are properly dressed and to review courteous behavior guidelines. Share information about the availability of communion. Suggest youth take note of the physical space. Usually evidence of the Protestant Reformation is apparent by the absence of elements rejected by the reformers: iconography (often only the cross and no saints), elaborate church building, incense, confessionals, or elaborate clerical vestments. Suggest also that they mark differences in the service itself, what liturgy is used, what it says, the emotional tone and style of the worship experience.
When the engagement is done, process the visit. Ask participants for their immediate responses:
- What was the experience like for them? Did it seem more or less familiar than the Catholic or Orthodox service? Were they made to feel welcome and important?
- Were there familiar elements or themes in the sermon? Did they notice mention or implication of Calvinist theology (for example, calling people "unworthy")? [Note: while elements of Calvinism have been roundly rejected by conservative Christianity-for example, Calvinists believe in infant baptism to wash babies of sin, but contemporary conservative Christians believe people must be old enough to choose Christ or baptism has no meaning and is heresy-the first and most important Calvinist teaching, the corrupt nature of humankind, is woven throughout most conservative Christian theology.]
- Could the sermon have been preached from a Unitarian Universalist pulpit? Why or why not?
- What was the atmosphere in the church like? Was it more or less formal than your church? Did the atmosphere seem fitting to the worship service? (For example, if the message was stark, were the surroundings also stark?)
- Were there teens and children in attendance?
- Was the group warmly and respectfully received?
- Were the teachings of Jesus evident in the church? Did they seem more or less evident than in the Catholic Church?
- Were there different roles for men and women?
- Did this seem like the kind of church Jesus would have wanted to spread his teachings? Why or why not?
- How would you compare your experience in a Catholic (or Orthodox) Church to your experience in this Protestant Church?